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New Report: CMT's data shows true scope of phone distraction behind the wheel

Phone distraction is vastly underreported and on the rise – 41% of daytime trips in the U.S. include phone use while driving
November 12, 2020

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Phone distraction is a fast-growing problem that has proven difficult to quantify and contain, thanks to the lack of a consistent method of measurement and varying levels of enforcement across the U.S. According to a new report by Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT) – the global leader in smartphone telematics and driving behavioral analytics– U.S. drivers were distracted by their phones in 41% of all daytime drives in 2019.

As smart phone use has steadily risen over the last decade, so too has the issue of phone distraction behind the wheel. The problem has stubbornly persisted despite the implementation of laws to prevent phone use while driving and continued fatalities that are a direct result of phone distracted driving. Overall, the report reveals that phone distraction has the potential to lead to an unprecedented number of fatalities if more modern solutions aren’t applied to the problem.

“While much has been done over the last decade to reduce distraction on the roads, based on the steady rise in fatalities, it’s clear that there is still much work to be done,” said Ryan McMahon, VP of Insurance & Government Affairs at CMT, who also co-authored the report. “That’s why, at CMT, we’ve made it our mission to help reduce the number of preventable fatalities that occur on our roads and stop this slow moving disaster in its tracks.”

CMT’s DriveWell technology can detect crashes and measure harsh braking, severe acceleration, cornering, phone distraction, and speeding events. Beyond measurement, the technology behind DriveWell is used to understand the crash risk associated with specific behaviors. CMT supports telematics-based insurance programs from top insurers that drastically help improve driving behavior on the road, putting them in the unique position to provide the necessary insights to help dramatically reduce the number of road fatalities.

These insights, combined with CMT’s thorough research and analysis, offer the most comprehensive overview of the state of phone distraction on our roads today.

In addition to providing an overview of distracted driving in the U.S. today, the report will address:

  • The discrepancy between official statistics on distraction against actual ground measurements
  • Ways to solve the phone-based distraction problem, while generating sustained improvements in behavior
  • Long-term solutions that have outperformed state-wide law changes and nationwide communication campaigns
  • The ways telematics can drastically improve driving behavior and reduce fatalities
  • How this issue has been further heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic

Several organizations have endorsed CMT’s efforts as both necessary and compelling.

Jay A. Winsten, Ph.D., Director of Strategic Media Initiatives at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health:

  • “The present study from Cambridge Mobile Telematics, highlighting the extent of smartphone involvement in the overall toll from distracted driving, provides an important corrective to the previous understanding of the problem’s dimensions. It’s well worth a careful read.”

Emily Stein, President of the Safe Roads Alliance:

  • “Cambridge Mobile Telematics has been doing the essential research that we need to demonstrate how enormous this problem is, and to show how we can effectively and creatively go about influencing drivers to hang up and focus on the road.”

Joel Feldman, Founder of End Distracted Driving (

  • “‘The Harsh Realities of Phone Distraction’” is a comprehensive 46-page report that is a welcome addition to the discussion about distracted driving and should be read and scrutinized by all who are interested in reducing deaths, injuries, and crashes caused by distracted driving.”

About Cambridge Mobile Telematics

CMT’s mission is to make the world’s roads and drivers safer. Since its first product launch in 2012 that pioneered mobile usage-based insurance, CMT has become the world’s leading telematics and analytics provider for insurers, rideshares, and fleets. CMT’s DriveWell platform uses mobile sensing and behavioral science to measure driving risk and incentivize safer driving, while its Claim Studio reduces the claims cycle time with real-time crash detection, crash reconstruction, and damage assessment using telematics and artificial intelligence. CMT has over 50 active programs with insurers and other partners, improving safety for millions of drivers every day around the world. Started based on research at MIT and backed by the SoftBank Vision Fund to fuel its rapid growth, CMT is headquartered in Cambridge MA. To learn more, visit and follow CMT on Twitter @cmtelematics.